Late one night in West Lafayette,
my grandma shakes out her coat
and tosses it like an afterthought
onto the passenger seat, the road
bringing her deeper into America,
into the heart and the half of it.
In the dark, she tunes in and America
waggles its tongue; the President
on the radio says, we are assisting
the peoples of southeast Asia.
In the backseat, her sons are sleeping
between camo sheets as she races
across state lines, route unplanned.
She won’t stay to see them drafted:
her boys broken for the heartland.
In the house she leaves behind
she knows herself as the face,
bruised and reflected in the basin.
The moon rises. She hits the brakes.
She cannot soldier in their place.
In a motel parking lot, she switches off
the purring engine and lifts her sons.
Their bodies are limp, mid-dream
of all-you-can-eat buffets and belief.
MILENA WILLIAMSON is from Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. She is pursuing a PhD in poetry at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast. She has received an Eric Gregory Award and was recently featured in New Irish Writing. More at www.milenawilliamson.com.